Ann Snook, TNC's Maya Forest Program Manager

[/i]The Nature Conservancy[/i]

As I mention in my post on TreeHugger, with so much attention (albeit needed) on the Amazon, we often forget about the world's second largest neotropical humid forest, Mexico's Maya Forest that also spills into Belize and Guatemala. Like the Amazon, it's home to a host of sensitive and threatened eco-systems from forest and savanna to mangrove and wetlands--all 13.3 million acres. When I traveled there, I was fortunate enough to meet one of the faces protecting it: Ann Snook, The Nature Conservancy's Maya Forest Program Manager.

Upon first meeting her, Ann's dedication to conservation was clear. Over dinner and until the late hours of the evening (an indication that this work is anything other than your ordinary 9-5), she enthusiastically shared her current role working in the field and with other dedicated conservationists on sustainable forest management with the Yucatan Peninsula's local indigenous.

She considers her current role "just the ticket" after a culmination of 10 years experience in agroforestry consultation work in West Africa, the Amazon Basin and Central America, working for a number of international and national organizations including the World Agroforestry Centre, and teaching as a professor of ecology and natural resource management for the Autonomous University of Nicaragua.

How did you get into this line of work?

I began working in outdoor activities when I was still in high school--leading outdoor bike trips through New England. I kept looking for opportunities to be involved in nature as I continued my education in biology and then my career in international conservation and sustainable development. My first job was as a research assistant to an agro-ecologist working on polycultures in Tabasco, Mexico and once I graduated I kept working overseas in ecology from taking me to Central America, the Amazons, Africa and back to Mexico.

What was your "a-ha" moment?

I can't think of one particular moment, but I spent my childhood camping and exploring with my family in the deserts and the undeveloped shores of North Africa, where I lived. After moving to the US as a teenager, we continued the adventures, hiking the trails of New England and visiting the [url='http://planetgreen.discovery.com/travel-outdoors/support-national-parks.html']National Parks. The love of nature and travel brought me into my work in conservation.

Who is your green hero?

Grzimik and his son Michael of Serengeti Shall not Die, a film I saw when I was about 10 years old and which I never forgot.

What is your ultimate green goal?

To do what I can to pass on the wild world and a healthy planet to future generations

What is your motivation?

Joy in nature; the everyday sounds and views of all that's going on around me in nature--birds, plants, insects...

What is most important to you, ecologically speaking?

To avoid senseless consumption and to support a different paradigm of living, a non-materialist one.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Keeping my eye on the end game and making sure everyday counts.

What is the most rewarding?

My contact with people in the field. Right now for instance, working to support the conservation and sustainable forest management efforts of the rural people in Quintana Roo, Mexico. These are people who are going about their lives, taking care of their lands, living on the land and managing it to the best of their ability--despite very little financial return.

Of the people you have worked with, who impresses you most?

The native people of the Columbian Amazonian region. They inspired me with their tenacity and wisdom, their sophisticated ecological knowledge, and the responsibility and self awareness with which they took action in their communities, and their environment.

What green thing do you do everyday?

My job. Other than that, driving my car very minimally for personal needs.

What do you wish you could do?

Get more people excited about the great outdoors!

What is your biggest eco-sin?

Driving a gas guzzler.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Integrate urban and rural areas so that work, food production and wild areas were closely interrelated and interspersed. I'd also change building styles to get rid of windowless buildings which rely on artificial climate control instead of good design, insulation and ventilation.

What is your best green advice?

Consume less.

Change Makers is series of interviews with people famous and obscure who are creating a more sustainable world through their work. Meet more Change Makers here.

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